Lake Quiltoa to Chugchillan Trek in Ecuador

Thursday August 6, 2015. Day 10 of the first leg of my Dragoman tour, and we find ourselves in the remote Andes village of Chugchillan, perched on the slopes of Rio Toachi Canyon.We are staying at the Cloud Forest Hostel, and my roomie and I have the best room with a very warm fireplace.

 From here, we spent a day trekking one of the most famous hikes in Ecuador, from the village of Quilotoa back to Chugchillan, along the northern section of the Quilotoa Loop.  

It was a sunny, but cold and windy day in Quilotoa, an Andes village with an active volcano that last erupted 850 years ago. We started our day at her famous volcanic crater lake. 

Turquoise in colour, the crater lake was formed in the 13th century AD. There is a trail that leads down to the surface, which takes 30 minutes to hike down to, and an hour to hike back up. 

Given we were at an altitude of 3800 metres (12,400 feet), there was no chance I was going to attempt the hike down, even with the option of donkeys at an extra fee to carry you back up. But I did trek part of the trail down to view the crater lake from two rocky outcrops, which is worth doing, just to give you a different perspective. The shape, size and colour were beautiful.

We started our hike back to the village of Chugchillan from Quilotoa, a 10.24km trek along the northern part of the Quilotoa Loop. At sea level, I wouldn’t consider this distance or terrain difficult, but I found the uphill climbs tough as a result of altitude, and the down hill sections slow due to my crappy knees. So the key to success for me was small steps at a slow and and steady pace, and the use of some hiking poles.
 The Andes landscape as we trekked along was beautiful. We had  the crater lake in view at the start of the  trek, climbing up to reveal the valley around. 

The path led us up and down on a sandy trail for the first half, which my knees were grateful for, before we descended again, past another local village. 

The steepest part down into the valley was the hardest part on my knees, with a narrow and rocky surface, before we began the slow and steep ascent upwards.

I wouldn’t say it was the most relaxing of treks I’ve done in my life, especially every time I had to walk up hill, but definitely one of the most scenic and rewarding. 




  1. Ky-Lee Murphy · August 8, 2015

    Hi Dolly,

    Wow what an amazing adventure you are having! So much better than going to work! Enjoy every special moment xxx


    Liked by 1 person

    • trekchick26 · August 8, 2015

      Thanks Dolly, I’m having a great time. I still have my moments but this trip is definitely what I need. Xx


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